Saturday, March 31, 2012

Easter Preschool Activities

We were on Spring Break this past week and are excited to get back into our normal routine.  We will be focusing on Easter this week.

Here's a look at our activities for the week.

New Creation in Christ Butterflies
Create butterflies using paper plates & plastic spoons.

Alphabet Egg Match
Place each egg into the correct space to match the uppercase & lowercase letters.

Easter Graphing
Roll the die and color in the correct space on the graph.  Stop when you reach 6 for any one picture and compare your results.
I created the die & chart using Easter stickers.  You can find a blank die to printout here. My blank graph printable is available below the photograph.  Use your own stickers or drawings to complete the preparation.  I laminated the die before assembling it for durability.  After I took this picture, I decided to place my graph in a sheet protector and use dry erase markers so we could reuse it multiple times.

Easter Egg Sorting
Sort the eggs by color using the whisk.
The biggest challenge with this activity will be that the eggs will fall through the center of the whisk if not positioned just right.  This will be a great exercise in patience, as well as motor skills!

Easter Egg Decorating with Shapes
Decorate each egg using the stickers that are the shape shown above that egg.
Printable available below the photograph.  Stickers available here.

Counting Easter Stickers
Look at the numeral written on each egg and place that number of stickers on each one.

Making Easter Lily Bouquets
Tutorial here.  Super Tot and Princess will each make 4 of these to make our Easter centerpiece.

Spelling Easter Words
Use the Bananagrams tiles in each cup to spell the word written on the cup.

Letter Tracing Practice

Resurrection Eggs
We will go through the Easter story each day using our Resurrection Eggs.  Toward the end of the week, I will have Super Tot tell me as much of the story as he can by showing him each item in order.

Be inspired:

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Bento Boxes & Food Allergies

Living with severe food allergies can be difficult.  When Super Tot was 2 years old, we discovered that he has a severe anaphylactic peanut allergy.  He has also tested positive on both the skin & blood tests to several tree nuts, so for now we avoid them all.  His allergy is severe enough that he has had a reaction even when eating a food that was processed in a facility that processes peanuts, even if the item itself did not contain any nuts.  

His pediatric allergist has told us that we are so lucky to be a homeschool family.  The biggest hurdle and concern for many families is school, and that is simply not going to be an issue for us.  However, we don't live in a bubble, and life in general presents plenty of challenges.  

When he was diagnosed, our family decided immediately to be fully supportive of him and his needs.  Therefore, all 4 of us avoid every item that he cannot have.  They are not in our house, and we don't eat them elsewhere.  Even when he is not with us, we simply do not consume them.  While we want him to grow to understand the severity of his allergy, the last thing we ever want is for him to feel different.  I guess it is natural and unavoidable that he will sometimes, but we are not going to be the ones to make him feel that way.  We basically all live as if we have his allergy, unless it is unavoidable.

As you can imagine, eating out is a challenge.  There are a few places we know are safe, but due to the issue of cross-contamination and ingredients possibly being contaminated long before they make their way to a restaurant, many places simply aren't safe.  We don't want to live in constant fear, but it also isn't worth the risk of being careless.

We have a system in place for playdates, church, etc.  I always wipe down tables and carts, with special wipes to eliminate any possible nut residue from a previous customer.  We avoid places where we know shelled peanuts are served (circus, baseball games, etc.).  Friends and family members know about his allergy and are generally very supportive and careful when we get together.  

We recently discovered a new challenge.  We were invited as a family to attend a party being hosted by a co-worker of my husband.  We realized as we planned our attendance that dinner would be served at the party.  We found out what the menu would be and decided it would be risky for Super Tot to eat at the party.  We realized, however, that in this situation, it might send the wrong message for the rest of us to avoid eating.  As I mentioned above, we try very hard to all avoid anything that he is not able to have.  This was a first for us, so we had to come up with a new plan.  As I prayed about what to do, I realized I already had the perfect solution...BENTO!!  

I have been making healthy bento lunches for Princess and Super Tot for awhile now, and they LOVE them!!  They are so excited each afternoon to see what is in their boxes, and they are eating so many healthy foods.  I realized that I could make a super fun bento for Super Tot, and he wouldn't miss out on anything.  In fact, HE would be the one with the coolest food at the party!  I created the fun Alligator Bento pictured at the top of this post and took it to the party.  Indeed, he was thrilled with his special meal.  He never felt like he was missing out, and he was excited about having a bento for dinner that day.  Of course, he was having so much fun at the party that he barely ate anything, but he certainly didn't miss the party food that was being served.  And the rest of us were able to eat without feeling like we were being rude to the hosts, or to Super Tot!

All this being said, I realize wholeheartedly that I am still not in control.  God is.  I am absolutely going to be proactive for my son, but I ultimately trust God to care for him and keep him safe.  I know that God chose us to be his family, and I trust that He did that knowing that we would do our part to keep him healthy and safe.  The biggest part of that, though, is trusting God to intervene and do what we cannot.  Food allergies or not, I am so blessed and thankful that God chose me to be Super Tot's mom.  

And on an obvious lesser note, I am thankful that I learned about the fun art of bento, and the blessing it has quickly become for my family in so many ways.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring has Sprung! Activities for 10 Books

Super Tot is 3 years old.

What's on the Tray?

Building Butterflies with The Crunching Munching Caterpillar
In this book, Caterpillar meets a bird, dragonfly, bee & butterfly.  He wishes he could fly like them.  Of course, at the end, his wish comes true. 
Super Tot will be locating the shapes listed on each blue card and building a butterfly using those shapes (see example).

Being Fruitful w/ Secrets of the Vine
Secrets of the Vine for Little Ones is a perfect companion for teaching young children the significance of John 15, and for helping them understand the symbolism of the Gardener, Vine, branches & fruit in this parable.
Under each grape is the name of a person that Super Tot told me he wanted to pray purposefully for this week.  Each day, he will remove one grape, and we will pray for that person throughout the day.  He will also send a little note to each person, letting that person know that he prayed for them.

Sound Matching with Bunny
In Bunny's Noisy Book, little Bunny experiences the many sounds of spring as he ventures out.
Each green egg is filled with a different item, and each has a matching yellow egg.  Super Tot is to shake each of the eggs and match the sounds.  
This is my inexpensive homemade version of sound cylinders!

Finding a "Home for A Bunny"
In this sweet book, Bunny is searching for a new home.  He finds many options, but they are all taken by other animals, and wrong for various reasons.
Super Tot will help each bunny find it's appropriate home by using the chopsticks to place each one in the "home" of the same color.

Matching Fruits
How a Seed Grows teaches children what happens when we plant a seed - the life cycle of a plant.
Because many plants bear fruit, Super Tot will be matching photographs of whole fruit with photographs of each type of fruit cut in half.  Some will be obvious, but others less so.  I found these printables here.

Letter Matching with Ten Little Ladybugs
We'll be working on counting as we read this fun book, but we'll move on to letters once we are done.
Each 2-piece letter puzzle matches the uppercase letter with the lowercase and builds a ladybug.  The puzzles are self checking when you turn them over, as each one also builds an item that begins with that letter. 

Nature Walk in God's Forest of Dreams
This is a sweet book that goes through various things that God created & using our senses as we experience the end of winter and beginning of spring.
We will take a nature walk after reading this book, collecting nature items in our egg carton to match each color that I painted in the cups.  I got this idea from Family Fun.

Counting with The Very Hungry Caterpillar
Our little caterpillars are hungry, just like the one in the book!
There are 8 cards, each with a different number of holes that the caterpillar has eaten through the leaf.  Super Tot is to count the holes and place the stone with the correct number on each card.

Little Quack Math
This is one of Super Tot's favorite books.  
We will use the mat to count and do early math as we read the book.

One of this week's journal ideas:
In Don't Worry About Tomorrow, the little girl faces her fears and realizes she is having so much fun that she has forgotten them altogether.
I will be asking Super Tot to draw or write about one of his fears (I am sure it will be the dark).

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Super Tot's Journal

I have received many inquiries regarding Super Tot's writing journal, and how I incorporate that into an age appropriate activity.  Does he actually "write" in his journal?  Not exactly, but what he does do is so important for his pre-writing skills and creativity.  He loves his journal time and I am happy that we are starting a positive habit at such a young age.

We are using a standard composition notebook for his journal.  I initially allowed him to decorate the cover (front and back) with stickers to really make it special to him.  Below are some of the pages he has done, with a brief explanation of each.  I will post follow-ups from time to time showing new pages and examples of how to make journaling exciting, fun & successful for tots and young preschoolers.

Front cover:

I asked him what shape he wanted me to draw, which was a circle.  I also wrote his name at the top of the page, though I have eliminated that from this photo.  He was given crayons and free reign to do whatever he wanted to the page.  He traced his name and drew his own circles, then colored each section.

Again, he wanted me to draw a circle.  He traced it, did a little scribbling and added a few star stickers.

The next day, I drew several shapes before giving him the journal.  He traced each one and did a variety of scribbling and coloring on the page.

 During our Dr. Seuss week, I drew a "Cat in the Hat" hat for him to copy.  I think he did a great job!!

This particular day I wrote "Jesus Loves Me" and drew a heart.  He had the entire 2 page spread to do what he wanted.  He traced the letters, drew his own heart and applied some stickers.  You can see he also did some additional drawing and coloring.  I was impressed with how well he traced the letters this time, and thought his heart drawing was spot on.

During our bear week, I had this page where I had placed 3 bear stickers and gave him instructions to draw a cave around them.  I had no idea what he would do, but I think he did a great job.

 This day I wrote a few letters on his page and gave him 2 sheets of alphabet stickers.  I instructed him to place the matching letter stickers UNDER the written letter.  He did a great job on this, too!

This was a self portrait.

Here I drew colored circles on the page and gave him a sheet of smiley face stickers.  He put each sticker into the correct circle, after which we counted the stickers for each color.

This was a "free" entry.  I asked him what he wanted to do in his journal, and he told me he wanted to draw a race track.  He happened to have the various race car theme stickers in his sticker box, so I pulled them out.  He drew the two circles on his own for the track and then placed all the stickers on.

These are just a few ideas to help spark your creativity should you want to start a journal with your tot.

St. Patrick's Day Trays

This week's trays focus on a St. Patrick's Day theme.  We will be learning about Saint Patrick, as well as enjoying some fun learning activities.

What's on the Tray??

Alphabet Match
Take a lowercase letter tile from the white bowl and place the duck on the matching uppercase letter shamrock.
~letter recognition, one to one correspondence~

Counting Beads
Place the correct number of beads into each section of the ice tray.
~counting, number recognition, fine motor~

 Button Threading
Thread each shamrock button onto the pipe cleaner.
~fine motor~

One to One Shamrock Match
Place one small shamrock from the bowl onto each larger shamrock.
~one to one correspondence~

Spooning Gems
Spoon the gems, one at a time, into the second dish.
~fine motor~

Balancing Hats
Balance one hat onto each of the sticks.
~fine motor, one to one correspondence~

Sorting Leprechauns by Size
Place each leprechaun onto the correct place on the sorting mat.
~size differentiation~
 I printed this activity and the one below it last year from Musings of Me.  Her blog is now listed as private, so it appears that the printables are no longer available.

St. Patrick's Day Counting
Count the St. Patrick's Day objects on each card and place the clothes pin onto the correct number.
~counting, number recognition, fine motor~

St. Patrick's Day Patterning
Use the objects in the bowls to complete each pattern.  Then, use the blank pattern sheet (printable available below photograph) to create your own patterns.
~sequencing & patterning~

Alphabet Sounds
This is honestly not my favorite toy, as it does not accurately say each sound for each letter, but it is fun for Super Tot and allows me some uninterrupted teaching time with Princess.

Books for this week:
Of course, we will be reading many more books, but these are our St. Patrick's Day theme books for the week.